Expansion Vegas loads up on D-men, could make more trades

Rufina Vignone
Giugno 26, 2017

Poile is the only GM in Predators history, patiently building the Sun Belt franchise into a powerhouse with a solid foundation in the community.

Glass was selected by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights with their first-ever pick Friday night, going No. 6 overall as part of a parade of forwards at the top of the National Hockey League draft.

Forward James Neal and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury were introduced as part of the Vegas Golden Knights inaugural squad as the National Hockey League held its first expansion draft in 17 years.

Gerard Gallant, center, poses for photographers with Bill Foley, left, owner of the Vegas Golden Knights, and George McPhee, Vegas Golden Knights general manager, Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Las Vegas.

The Golden Knights, the NHL's 31st franchise, will play their first regular-season game October 6 against the Stars at American Airlines Center.

The 32-year-old Fleury, who won a Stanley Cup title with the Pittsburgh Penguins this season, was the second to last player announced.

"But this is, I think, once the dust has settled now with expansion in terms of Vegas making all the selections or trades, whatever they've done, it really puts into focus again OK, the draft itself, which is important for every team". The Golden Knights had to find someone with character, someone who could handle the outside distractions of playing in Sin City, someone who could grow with the team, relate to the fans and be the face of the franchise.

Rounding out the first nine picks was defenseman Brayden McNabb, who was voted the top newcomer for the Los Angeles Kings after scoring 51 points this past season. "I'll give it everything I've got to win some games and try to get into the community to meet people and spread the word about the Golden Knights". Taking on Smith's contract was likely an incentive for the Panthers to leave Marchessault, who scored 30 goals last season, unprotected. The event was held at the T-Mobile Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights also made a series of trades with other teams to dissuade Vegas from picking particular players, allowing them to stockpile draft picks and more talent.

After Foley paid $500 million to the league as an expansion fee, the Golden Knights were given favourable franchise-building terms explicitly created to give them a better chance to be competitive more quickly than the new teams of the previous 25 years.

"We have three second-round picks, and we hope to do the same thing with those that we did (Friday) with our first-round picks", McPhee said. Few teams generate more excitement and optimism than the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers right now, and they've built their ascending franchises on No. 1 overall picks.

The Flames lose defenseman Deryk Engelland to expansion.

"Once we gathered all the information we felt comfortable that if he was there for us we were going to take him", general manager Ron Hextall said. I've spent a lot of time there but this year is going to be a lot of fun. That's how the Golden Knights have three top-15 picks in this weekend's entry draft, and obtained 10 picks over the next four drafts in addition to their own (which should be high). Vegas could use free agency to stock its top forwards, as it already has by signing Vadim Shipacyhov out of the KHL. Making those agreements got Vegas forward prospect Alex Tuch from the Wild, defenseman Shea Theodore from the Ducks, unsigned forward prospect Nikita Gusev from the Lightning and the 15th pick and defensive prospect Jake Bischoff from NY.

On Wednesday night Cody Glass watched the NHL Awards and Expansion Draft with increased interest.

Most were bad. Some were so bad that it's fair to wonder if McPhee made some insane prop bet that the Knights would finish with fewer than 20 points next season. An 84-point season would have put the Golden Knights in sixth place in an eight-team Pacific Division last season, ahead of Arizona and Vancouver.

The Golden Knights also may have landed their goaltender of the future in 25-year-old Jean-Francois Berube from the New York Islanders. By the time you read this, the Golden Knights roster could look very different than it did on Wednesday night. It is expected that the Knights will be announcing major names in the league which will surely decrease the firepower of other teams.

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